Apple Escapes Trade Secrets Claims Over Startup Employee Hires

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Apple Inc. didn’t take trade secrets when it hired divided employees from an app-recommendation startup, a California state appeals justice ruled.

Hooked Media Group grown an app that gives personalized suggestions for other apps formed on users’ use patterns. Apple discussed shopping Hooked “solely so Hooked’s employees (and in sold certain engineers) would turn Apple employees—an ‘acqui-hire,’ in Silicon Valley jargon,” according to a opinion from a California Court of Appeals for a Sixth Appellate District.

Apple finished adult employing dual Hooked engineers and a Chief Technology Officer though creation a understanding with a company. Hooked sued Apple for rascal and misappropriating trade secrets, among other things.

The justice ruled for Apple on Hooked’s trade secrets claim. The employees might have had trusted technical information, though “showing that a employees had a information is not sufficient to settle Apple improperly acquired or used it.” The justice pronounced it couldn’t concede a fit opposite a former worker for “using his or her possess believe to advantage a new employer” since it would be homogeneous to retroactively commanding a noncompetition agreement.

The justice also deserted Hooked’s rascal claim. Although Apple told Hooked it would keep a information trusted and understanding directly with Hooked’s CEO in employing a engineers, there was no justification Apple didn’t intend to respect these assurances when it gave them. “Breaking a guarantee is not itself actionable,” a justice said.

Hooked had also sued Apple for aiding a CTO’s crack of a fiduciary avocation to a company. But there was no justification a CTO began competing with Hooked while he still worked there, a justice said.

Hooked’s claims that Apple interfered with a employees’ contracts unsuccessful since it didn’t uncover Apple committed a prejudicial act other than a division itself. Otherwise, a justice pronounced a association “ordinarily commits no authorised wrong by employing a competitor’s employees.”

Justice Adrienne M. Grover wrote a infancy opinion, assimilated by Justice Franklin D. Elia. Justice Nathan D. Mihara concurred.

Sideman Bancroft LLP represented Hooked. O’Melveny Myers LLP represented Apple.

The box is Hooked Media Grp. Inc. v. Apple Inc., Cal. Ct. App., 6th Dist., No. H044395, 5/28/20.

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